Sunday 20th December 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough wake up too late
Another game and another mountain to climb in the last half hour, for Farnborough Senior Vets, after the usual seasonal gifts for the opposition (seasonal as in occurring all season, rather than for Christmas only). We were back at Beckenham Cricket Club in Foxgrove Road but this time as visitors, and once again with thirteen players. The pitch was perfect, there was no wind and the thin spray in the air dissipated quickly as the excellent referee got us under way.
Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Colin Brazier;
Rob Lipscomb, Kypros Michael, Sinisa Gracanin, George Kleanthous;
Waine Hetherington, Des Lindsay.
Substitutes: Steve Blanchard, Andy Faulks.
Supporters: Hannah Kleanthous.
Andy Faulks was still making his way to the ground when we had conceded our first goal. We had made a good start, we thought, matching a strong side with some big units. Barely ten minutes had elapsed when a hole appeared in the centre of our defence and the space was filled by a mobile Wellcome forward who timed his arrival just right, to volley the cross from the right past Paul Kelliher from two yards out. We did not dwell too much on the manner of this setback and set about looking for an equaliser. We thought we were about to get it when Rob Lipscomb was the first to the ball, and unchallenged, as the Wellcome keeper could not hold a George Kleanthous free kick. Rob must have taken his real eye off the ball, or it came to his wrong foot, or the bounce or height was not optimal, or he was already celebrating in his mind’s eye, but he contrived to lift the ball over the bar from less than two yards out. Rob’s inner groan increased five minutes later when he missed a better opportunity arguably. Kypros Michael earned a penalty after getting behind his marker and finding his angled run on goal cut short unfairly. Rob, who until today could claim he had never missed a penalty (without revealing how many he had taken) saw his tame and poorly-placed kick pushed onto the bar by the Wellcome keeper.
Just when we were beginning to think it would be one of those days, however, Waine Hetherington produced a peach of a volley from a central position twenty yards out on the edge of the Wellcome box. The ball swerved, so did the keeper but in the other direction, and we had a well-deserved and handsome equaliser. At that point I think the Farnborough outlook was fairly positive, we were moving the ball well, had a compact midfield, and were creating half chances with Kypros Michael and Des Lindsay in particular giving the Wellcome defence something to think about.
We made two changes on the half hour with Andy Faulks and Steve Blanchard coming on for Kypros Michael and Patrice Mongelard. We lost a bit of rhythm and Wellcome could sense it. They were to take the lead with about five minutes of the half left. From a Farnborough perspective the goal was not good. Waine Hetherington had volleyed the ball back into our defence, from the left wing, inside our half, mumbling the name Steve, only to see the ball knock Colin Brazier over, fall nicely to a Wellcome forward who quickly transferred it to the other side where the scorer of the first goal had once again uncannily ghosted into space without a Farnborough defender within spitting distance (not that we would, but you know what I mean) and he produced a tidy finish from two yards out into the bottom corner.
Any hopes we might have had of getting back in the game were dashed early in the second half when we failed to defend a corner. Our box was more crowded than a nativity scene and the ball was bundled into our net. Worse came soon after when Des Lindsay got behind the Wellcome defence and went hard and low, with his shot, only to find his groin was not up to it. Des was helped off the pitch to restore circulation to the affected part and Kypros Michael was back on. The game was not an hour old when we made it even more difficult for ourselves. There was a mix-up at the back – and a header from Steve Blanchard intended for Paul Kelliher never got there, nor did Paul, and the same Wellcome forward who had already punished us twice, nipped in and steered the ball home to grab a deserved hat-trick.
Remarkably we hit back almost immediately as George Kleanthous skipped past his marker on the right, played the ball wide to Kypros Michael who advanced towards the byeline before crossing the ball on a plate for Rob Lipscomb to finish crisply. Patrice Mongelard then came on for Colin Brazier as we pressed to get back in the game. Rob Lipscomb combined well with George Kleanthous, for the latter to get our third goal with a low shot into the far corner from the edge of the box with eleven minutes left. Rob hit the base of the post soon after and we genuinely felt we could claw our way back in the game.
Although Des had left the pitch his left boot was back on when Patrice Mongelard had to replace his which had disintegrated. “Good luck with getting a new pair of boots past Mrs M” whispered Colin Brazier – it is done, if you are wondering, and she even sanctioned a more expensive pair this time – it must be Christmas!). We had one or two scares at the back but did not fall further behind and that gave us hope. The referee awarded us several free kicks around the box as the Wellcome defending got more frantic.
The last action of the game saw Sinisa Gracanin get behind the Wellcome defence to volley a lofted free kick over the bar from two yards out. That was it – there was no more time left on the referee’s watch. Andy Faulks could not get the service he craved and his match was a frustrating affair. Once again I would venture the thought that the whistle was more welcome to our opponents than to us.
Our Christmas jumper competition did not attract as many entries as we hoped but there were some splendid entries. The winner of the junior section was Hannah Kleanthous, whilst the Senior competition (without batteries) was won by Colin Brazier for a vintage effort, and Mick O’Flynn won the “with batteries” one. Colin Mant’s effort gets a mention too, as we almost managed to convince him, early doors, that the competition had been cancelled in an overnight email that he had failed to read. But he was not the Farnborough player to provide most amusement for his team mates today. I was.
The buffet offering was the now familiar sausages, chips and buttered slices with various condiments. Whilst I had access to more than the previous week I was still under scrutiny for my consumption. My team mates’ idea of a joke was to produce photographic evidence of me swooping on last Sunday’s buffet on our opponents’ table. As if the visual comedy was not enough, there was a surprisingly witty caption which said “FOBG Senior Vets Appoint Patrice Mangetout as Head Nutritionist”. Mrs M. was highly amused, and thought the pose was typical of the man. I hope this photo won’t be appearing on the club website with this report.
Man of the match - George Kleanthous, for a dynamic performance, and a Christmas jumper which was almost as good as his daughter’s.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous